Transmedia, interactive storyteller Sears teaches in Carson Center
calendar icon19 Nov 2021
Lincoln, Neb.--Clint Sears, the head of content for Spoon Originals and an interactive storyteller with credits in film, television and immersive experiences, is teaching EMAR 110: Story Lab 1—Intro to Interactive Storytelling this fall in the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.
“That was probably the biggest challenge when I started was what do you cover in interactive storytelling?” Sears said. “My approach has just been to try and find out two things, what is being done in the real world today? I looked at the field and just tried to see how are people putting food on the table with interactive storytelling now. And I try to tackle real-world, practical assignments from that. And then on top of that, what will interactive storytelling be in the future? And I’ve tried to throw that in as well.”
Megan Elliott, founding director of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, said this has been a great opportunity for emerging media arts students.
“We are thrilled that we were able to get Clint Sears to teach Story Lab I to our incoming freshmen so that they could learn from his direct industry experience,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for them to connect with an industry professional from day one.”
Sears and Elliott met in 2019 at a conference.
“Megan saw me speak at a Design Summit in 2019 about one of my interactive theater projects, and I had been in touch with her for a long time to see about what I could do to help the Carson Center because it was so cool, and I was just really into the idea of it. It was pretty revolutionary, and I really wanted to be a part of it.”
Sears is a writer, director and producer, known for his work on “Tales of Halloween,” “Crow’s Blood,” “St. Agatha” and “It’s Alive Created by Neil Patrick Harris.” He is also the co-creator and writer of the groundbreaking ARG (alternate reality game) and immersive theatre experiences, The Tension Experience and Theatre Macabre.
“Basically, that was another kind of emerging media that I saw coming along, and the idea of just kind of being able to step into a narrative and a living movie or living video game, and the idea that you could still create a guided narrative where the audience felt like they were in control, but they were living out the best moments of the most exciting scenarios they could possibly think of,” Sears said of the immersive experiences he helped create.
Sears is currently the head of content for Spoon Originals (https://spoonoriginals.com) on Spoon Radio, a social audio streaming service that creates interactive live podcasts.
“We had set up one of our immersive theatre projects with the Russo Brothers, who did all of the Avengers movies, and they were interested in going to Las Vegas to set up a static site for our Tension Experience,” Sears said. “And then the pandemic hit, and different things happened, and it kind of stalled. I needed to get a day job, and I found a listing that was basically looking for an interactive showrunner. They were going to start doing a live podcast with an interactive element. It really did seem like the kind of thing where I could see the future of a lot of things heading. I’m always trying to look for the next thing. I immediately was just filled with ideas and bombarded them with about 50,000 ideas about the way I thought it could happen. And I think the rubber hit the road on my enthusiasm. I started off as a showrunner, and then I quickly became the head of content for the entire thing. I have a team that I run for that.”
It quickly became one of his favorite jobs.
“It’s a little bit like being a mini studio, in a way, and so it’s been my favorite job ever. I absolutely love it,” he said. “I have kind of an advertising background, copyrighting and creative direction, along with the screenwriting and a little bit of producing and directing here and thre. And with this role, I felt like I got to wear all my hats at the same time.”
Originally from Kansas City, Sears first discovered the magic of movies while watching “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I used to love ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ There was a certain time of year every year when it would come on, and I would absolutely, no matter what I was doing, have to beg the family and everyone to sit down and be quiet and watch ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Sears said. “I think that movie, more than any other, really instilled in me the magic of movies because it’s so fantastical, and you get the black and white to color and going into a whole other world.”
He was also influenced by seeing the “Back to the Future” DeLorean car at Universal Studios around the age of five.
“I went to Universal Studios for a trip, and ‘Back to the Future’ hadn’t come out yet,” he said. “And somehow, I got to sit in the ‘Back to the Future’ car. And I remember the handlers at Universal pointing to things in the car, and it was the flux capacitor. And they said, ‘Hey kid, look at that and remember that. That’s going to be huge.’ And then I got back to Kansas City and watched the premiere of the movie. I had seen the set and sat in the car. If ‘The Wizard of Oz’ hadn’t done it, that definitely did it. I was like all right, I need to be a part of this.”
For Sears, he is a storyteller because he believes everything is storytelling.
“I just believe that literally everything is storytelling—like everything in the world. It’s kind of the fabric of the universe,” he said. “Everything has its own myth and narrative, and those that know how to tell their own stories most effectively, I think, are the ones that are set up for success in pretty much any field.”
He plans to continue working in the interactive space, which is where he sees the future of entertainment and advertising continuing to go.
“I really like start ups and that culture, and I like being able to wear all my hats at the same time,” he said. “That kind of fun chaos is what I’m really drawn to, so I think there’ll be more of those in the future. I can’t help but come up with ideas, so I’ve got a few pitches in the works. I’m pretty excited about that.”